Planning Authority accused of adopting ‘two weights and two measures’

A company denied a planning permit for a home for the elderly at Wied Għomor has accused the authority of rezoning the area to accommodate somebody else’s villas

Wied Għomor, the valley between San Ġwann and Swieqi
Wied Għomor, the valley between San Ġwann and Swieqi

A company denied a permit to build a residential home for the elderly in the valley between San Ġwann and Swieqi has accused the Planning Authority of acting abusively.

Wied Għomor Quarry Limited filed a judicial protest in court arguing that it had been “abusively” refused a permit in a quarry it owns, despite 10 years of negotiations.

The company had taken court action after it found out that the Planning Authority had decided to rezone the area to allow 11 villas to be built there.

The meeting in which the decision was taken had not been publicised as it should have been and the quarry company was never notified, finding out from third parties the day before the hearing was due to take place.

The company had written to the PA to inform it that its legal representative would be unable to attend and ask whether another date could be fixed. The PA had gone ahead with the hearing anyway, deciding in favour of the villa project, which is situated just 20 metres away from the site previously earmarked for the old people’s home project.

Apart from this, the applicant for the villa project had been allowed to encroach on government lands and it was unclear at this stage whether or not this land was to form part of the villa complex, argued the protest.

The plaintiffs argue that the PA was using “two weights and two measures”, deciding on who gets permits depending on the identity of the applicant or developer.

After denying the old people’s home application, the authority was working to stop the plaintiffs from continuing to use the quarry “and this certainly to appease the prices of those who have been given the blessing to build villas in what is technically ODZ land full of carob trees”.

Lawyer Edward Gatt, who signed the protest, said the actions of the PA were irregular and gave rise to serious doubts about the transparency of the process.

He demanded that the authority regularise its position in regard to the applications, failing which they would be liable in damages.

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